Jean-Michel Basquiat Painting Auctioned and Sold for $100 Million

The art market has always seemed to operate in its own universe, somewhat disconnected from the reality of the rest of the world. Since the worldwide COVID-19 lockdown went into effect in March, most private transactions have remained below $5 million. Thus, the purchase of the late American artist’s 1982 painting entitled Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump marks a major sale in an otherwise slimmed-down art market. Boy and Dog in a Johnnypump is considered to be a monumental work for the late artist, when he was reaching the height of his talent. The simple fiery-hued canvas is considered to be a neo-expressionist “tour-de-force” outlining a boy playing with his pet dog.

According to the industry newsletter Baer Faxt, billionaire Ken Griffin, a hedge fund manager and CEO of the investment firm Citadel purchased a work by Jean-Michel Basquiat privately for more than $100 million making it one of the most costly paintings ever sold. The seller was reportedly Peter Brant, Griffin’s new neighbor in Palm Beach, who mounted a glitzy display of the artist’s work at his private museum in Manhattan last year.

According to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, Griffin has an estimated net worth of $15.3 billion, much of which he funnels into avid art collecting; he’s acquired works by Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning for record figures. The Chicago-based magnate is so prolific on the art scene that he’s is a trustee of the Whitney Museum and his name adorns that museum’s lobby, a hall at the Art Institute of Chicago, and a wing of the Museum of Modern Art. A spokesman has said that Griffin intends to share the Basquiat paintings publicly.

Basquiat’s public art auction record is $110.5 million, set at Sotheby’s in 2017 when Yusaku Maezawa purchased Untitled (1982) at a Sotheby’s sale in New York, shattering the record for most expensive work by an American artist, then held by Andy Warhol.